Many different things can impact what sort of estate planning issues/concerns arise for a person. One is their marital status. For example, if a person is single, there can be some particular complexities when it comes to estate planning, and certain estate planning decisions might be more challenging.
One is decisions regarding what is to happen if they were ever to become incapacitated due to a medical condition. When a person is incapacitated when it comes to making medical or financial decisions, proxies can be appointed to make medical and financial decisions for the person. In such situations here in Michigan, a conservator can be appointed by a court to take care of financial decisions while a guardian can be appointed by a court to take care of things like health care decisions.
A person doesn't simply have to leave it to fate who will take care of their health care and financial decisions in the event they become incapacitated. They can make plans in advance for who will end up in such roles if such a situation arises. There are legal documents that individuals can set up in which they can name who they would want to have as agents to serve these decision-making roles so that guardianship and conservatorship appointments don't have to be made by a court.
Now, one of the major decisions when it comes to such documents is who to designate as a health care or financial agent. These are very powerful roles, so choosing wisely when it comes to such designations can be vital.
This is where things can be a little more difficult for single individuals. For married individuals, there may be many trusted individuals right within their direct family who are logical choices to name as an agent, such as their spouse or children. Single individuals, however, might not have as obvious of choices in front of them. Thus, determining who to name in documents that transfer decision-making authority in the event of incapacity can sometimes prove particularly tricky for single individuals.
Estate planning attorneys can assist single individuals with all sorts of different estate planning issues, including the particular issues and concerns that can arise specifically in relation to not being married.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Estate-Planning Essentials for Single People," Carolyn T. Geer, Dec. 7, 2014